There is a unanswered question regarding conscription, was it beneficial or did it take a toll on us Canadians? This thesis paper will state facts supporting the positive impact that conscription had on canada in 1917 and today.
By examining the reasons that forced conscription, the war measures act and the effects of female voting, and how conscription helped or affected Canada it will become evident in this thesis paper that conscription is significant and beneficial to Canada in 1917 to present day. Conscription was forced upon us canadians in May of 1917, Sir Robert Borden, Canada’s prime minister at the time, it is announced on parliament that conscription was needed, right after Robert came back from a conference in London. Why was this needed? A lot of Canadians were asking themselves this. The main reason would be the order of the War Measures Act, this is when the government can have absolute power over the country to maintain safety and security during the world war. Also by the late 1916’s relentless human toll was taking place in the war, Canada needed to make a change on that, the need of soldiers was very high, after the battle of sommes the manpower was so low that canada was thinking they might be in danger, but the only problem is that nobody was to enlist into the army. At the time the population of Canada was only 8 Million, so men who were eligible weren’t easy to just grab off the streets, this is where conscription was put into play. “In the eyes of Anglo Montreal and the rest of Canada, (French-Canadians) were worthless and evil.
” (Montreal Gazette). Most of the Canadian conscripts were not Quebecers, or know as french canadians, the other Canadian men did not like this and called them worthless, all of this compulsory enrollment crisis and every canadian starting to stress and worry, this wasn’t good. Another reason that conscription was put into effect was that all the other countries in the war had us outnumbered by a great number, that could have affected Canadian safety and land.The War Measures act was supposed to give the nation’s government absolute power on any decisions that could maintain the security, order and safety during the war. This act gave the sweeping ability and power while under emergency to the Federal Government, to do whatever means necessary to keep the nation safe.
This is where the thought of Conscription was brought up, the government used their absolute power over Canada and said that they needed soldiers so they will voluntold anyone eligible, this was bad and good for some canadians, it was bad for the ones who hate the war and think that they might die, it was also bad for the families who had to watch their sons, brothers and fathers be taken away for the army, but on the other hand it was good for the men who would like to serve their country by keeping it safe and it was good for some people staying in canada because they can be reassured that they will probably stay safe. During the conscription crisis, woman did not have the right to vote on whether conscription should still be effect or not. So the Government of Canada turned to mothers and wives of all the soldiers that are already at war, of course most of the votes would be yes to conscription because that means that their husbands, fathers and brothers would have a better chance of staying safe. Since women never had the right to vote, the government empowered them to vote towards the Conscription act and guaranteeing that it will be in effect soon, most of the women to vote were people who already had brothers, husbands and dad’s in the war. The government doing this was looking good for the soldiers, they now know that they are most likely to have reinforcements to help them. Conscription was mostly effective for our nation’s safety and security but it caused grief for provinces, ethnic and linguistic groups, communities, and families, and had lasting political effects on the country as a whole. Canadians found it efficient because they found out it is important and a necessity in order to win and keep themselves and their other soldiers safe and defended.
For others it was an oppressive act passed dishonestly by a government more British than Canadian. French-speaking Canadians continued their protests as well, and young men by the tens of thousands joined others from across Canada in refusing to register for the selection process, Of those that did register, 93 percent applied for an exemption (CBC learning). An effort to arrest suspected draft dodgers was highly unpopular across the province and, at its worst, resulted in several days of rioting and street battles in Quebec City at Easter, 1918. The violence left four civilians dead and dozens injured.
November 1918, only 48,000 conscripts had been sent overseas, half of which ultimately served at the front. Over 50,000 more conscripts stayed in canada, they would of had to go into the battle if the war went into 1919 (Canadian Encyclopedia). Overall it was an effective step to Canada’s succession, it obviously helped the canadian troops in the trenches, helped their families so they would not have to lose a beloved husband, brother or father. Conscription played a huge role in Canada’s World War 1 situation, it gave us support for places where it was needed the most, we did this by compulsory enlisting people into war. By examining the reasons that conscription was forced on us in 1917, the war measures act and female voting, and how conscription helped or affected Canada. It is thoroughly evident in this paper that the conscription crisis of 1917 was utterly beneficial for us Canadians, this was mandatory and it definitely helped us succeed as a country.